Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Stephen Lewis and Paul Farmer
Stephen Lewis, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS to Africa, issued a call Tuesday at the close of his remarks on nutrition, for activists to take on all international institutions simultaneously with raucous, tenacious and well-crafted demands for global justice. Speaking on a panel entitled "Food and Nutrition in Care and Treatment Programs in Developing Countries" Lewis and fellow luminary Dr. Paul Farmer urged advocates, organizations and multilateral agencies to demand that government promises – such as those made at UNGASS in June – become reality rather standing as empty promises year after year. Lewis highlighted the symbiotic nature of hunger and HIV/AIDS particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean while Farmer gave specific examples of the relationship between economic insecurity, lack of food and consumptive diseases. Farmer charged that HIV/AIDS advocates must get better at dispelling the notion that essential wrap-around services for HIV/AIDS patients are "gold plated." Ensuring that hungry patients have food to eat, that thirsty patients have water to drink, and that their children go to school, he argued, must be understood by world powers to be critical to HIV/AIDS treatment provisioning. Arguing that trade barriers and free trade agreements have created a "paradox of tragedy – the coexistence of gluttony and starvation" while devastating local agricultural production, Farmer and Lewis urged western activists in particular to continue demanding global economic, political and social justice and fair trade agreements from their leaders.